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Garden Design Tips: Wake Up a Sleepy Green Garden

Over the course of the growing season you may find a point or points in time where there's not much going on in your garden, in terms of color.

Often grown as a houseplant, croton loves heat and humidity. It can add color to a "blah" border in midsummer and then move indoors for winter.

Often grown as a houseplant, croton loves heat and humidity. It can add color to a "blah" border in midsummer and then move indoors for winter.

The long-term solution for this garden design problem is to add more shrubs and perennials that bloom to fill the gaps or that have colorfully patterned or interestingly textured leaves. Take notes of where your garden could use more color as you notice it, research the plants that will do the job and suit your growing conditions, and plan to add those in the fall or early spring.

There are are some quick fixes to shake up your garden design while you wait for ideal planting weather. Try these easy ways to add immediate interest:

  • In summer, add annuals that are blooming and will keep blooming until frost, or foliage annuals like coleus. Chances are good that you can find some deeply discounted at your favorite garden center.
  • Likewise, purchase tropical plants with colorful foliage (such as croton, shown) from your local greenhouse, plant them in containers and place those in the garden. As fall approaches you can move these indoors to grow as houseplants.
  • If you’re already growing annuals or summer-blooming perennials in containers, move those pots into a blah-looking border.
  • Did some of your container plants succumb to heat or drought? Do you have nice-looking pots in your shed that you never got around to planting? Is the garden center offering big containers on sale right now? Place one (or some) of those beautiful pots into the garden empty!
  • If you know which perennials or summer-blooming shrubs would work best in your garden design and you see them for sale, go ahead and purchase them but slip them (nursery pot and all) into a pretty container, and put that into the garden. Keep the plant watered and tended to until the weather cools and precipitation returns in fall and you can safely plant it. Bonus: This is a good way to be sure you’ve chosen the best spot for it, too, as it gives you time to live with the plant in its potential location before making it permanent.